Kapelemera in green suit tours a pavillion together with other officials and Senior Chief Kaomba (in a hat)

By Vincent Khonje

Malawi Tobacco farmers have been advised to align themselves to the requirements of the new Tobacco Industry Act if they are to reap more from their efforts.

On Monday the tobacco industry commemorated the World Tobacco Growers Day in Kasungu where most of the achievements of the industry were highlighted however some dissatisfaction were also expressed.

One farmer Goodwell Chiteya said over the years the industry has helped in transforming his life as he accumulated some wealth after the sale of his tobacco.

However he said the last few years have not been great as the industry has been characterized by low prices on the market.

?The prices have not been good so far, they have been declining. Apart from this there were also problems with handling of tobacco at the floors after it was delivered,? said Chiteya.

Kasungu Agriculture Development Division (ADD) Programmes Manager George Kapelemera speaking on behalf of the Principle Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development said the new tobacco industry act seeks to address all these problems and farmers must align themselves to it.

?The ministry made sure that an act governing the industry be passed and be in force now. This is one way of making sure farmers get good prices since the law is looking at farmers abiding to the quotas they are given,

?In the past we had some people growing tobacco without registering so the overproduction was one reason why prices were too low,? said Kapelemera.

He said farmers should produce required tobacco and right amount and should also follow all the requirements in producing the cash crop.

The new law which was passed late last year addresses the issues of overproduction, use of non certified tobacco seed, irregularities in growers? registration and transportation, processing and grading among other things.

Some farmers have recently expressed their lack of understanding of how the new law works.

Allaying the fears Tobacco Association of Malawi (TAMA) President Abel Kalima Banda said the law is there to protect the farmers most.

?It?s a good law which farmers should not fear or worry about. The big role it is doing is protecting us from all sorts of exploitation. We will be reaching out to all the farmers in the country to fully understand the law,? said Banda.

The 2019 tobacco growers? day was commemorated under a theme ?Tobacco Farmers-Leading in Environmentally Sustainable Livelihoods?.

The industry uses trees and tobacco companies now give their farmers tree seedlings so that more tress are replenished and also farmers are encouraged to diversify by also growing other crops apart from tobacco as a way of mitigating the impact of climate change.

During commemoration apart from a solidarity march, traditional dances and comedy that spiced up the event, various players in the tobacco industry displayed pavilions showcasing their interventions in the industry.

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